We’ve been beaten, killed, shunned, excommunicated, turned away, told we’re going to burn in Hell, treated with contempt, humiliated. Shamed.
And yet. Here we are.
It’s one of my favorite parts of being gay. I look at my LGBTQ+ kin and know that, no matter what differences we have between us, we share this experience:
In the face of discrimination, and a sometimes unfriendly world broadcasting messages of “othering” and undesirability of our essential selves, we’ve stepped into the light.
We listened to our own inner signals–some of them blaring, many of them subtle whispers–and stepped onto an unpopular road.
Living in Boulder, Colorado means that my surrounding culture has significantly shifted towards acceptance of my lesbian self. I still feel breathless to realize that my beloved and I were able to get married, something I’d actually declared “would never happen in my lifetime.”
And my body holds the memories of a very different time that felt unsafe.
I had my first girlfriend as a junior in high school. I knew very little about lesbians then (somehow had a picture of something to do with black leather and chains, though I don’t know what exactly how it all went together).
I was utterly transported by the bliss of our first night together; but then, in the morning, reality hit. I remember being slumped in a brown, vinyl armchair and saying quite glumly, “you know what this means about us, don’t you?!”
We didn’t have the words, but we knew we had suddenly fallen into the role of transgressors and outsiders.
There was such a dissonance of experiencing beautiful, exquisite love and being rejected by those who I loved, for being in love.
After graduating, we chose to go to colleges 2,000 miles apart, with the plan of each meeting men and becoming straight.
That lasted from September until Christmas break.
That’s when we reunited, falling into each one another’s arms with ecstasy and relief. That relief was short-lived, however, as my parents confronted me, mother crying, father looking stern and talking about it all being a phase, banning all of my friends from coming into our home. Instead of stopping us, though, we persisted, strengthened. Soon thereafter we changed schools and move in together.
What did it take for the two of us to follow a path of who we really were?
What does it require for LGBTQ+ folks as a whole to step out of what is expected and into their true selves?
Ah, of course— those vaunted virtues of courage, bravery, strength.
Except that I didn’t feel brave. I felt scared and sad to lose my family’s approval. My glee over being part of this new experience and community teeter-tottered with my own internalized homophobia and self-hatred.
Now I recognize that the color of my skin, my socio-economic class, and my education provided me some privileges that others didn’t have; that I could follow my heart and develop community and safety more easily than a whole bunch of others. Though at the time I just knew I felt scared, a lot.
The call to be who I truly am was so clear, so deep, and so joyful, that there was no other choice for me.
I know that so many people the world over cannot follow their most essential truths, no matter how clearly they hear those internal voices. The cost is just too high.
I send those folks blessings and love as I feel so grateful to those around me–gay, lesbian, bi, queer allies–that we get to celebrate, this true pride. Not the “power over” pride that’s just righteousness and one person using contempt and shame to show how they’re better than another.
Instead, it’s the real deal, the feeling that arises from the power we feel from connecting with the depths of our true being, this is feeling proud.
So, to the queer who was brave enough to correct my misgendering them;
the person of color who sat in a sea of white faces, again;
the lesbian who wore pants and a tux to the “dresses only” gathering;
the 90 year old who didn’t flinch about showing up for boxing;
the one with dyslexia who has helped me understand the richness of a neurodiverse brain;
the straight man who studied the flute;
the cis-gendered woman who tolerated the “Karen” derision and showed up as an ally to so many;
the one who struggles to climb stairs who stepped in and made sure we funded a lift;
my white teammate who married her African-American sweetheart–50 years ago;
my dear friend whose body resembles ancient goddess statues, instead of the rail-thin models of today;
the parents who chose to learn and grow and embrace, against their own conditioning;
every client I’ve had who moved out of their self-definition of brokenness, through facing the damage of their trauma and conditioning, to finally celebrating all they have to offer the world;
And every single one of you who are out there, flinching against someone’s possible rejection of your true self…
In honor of Pride Month, I express my deep gratitude to each of you for your exquisite, endless gift of inspiration to do the hardest thing–to show who I really am, out and proud.
That anguished moment on the brown armchair was an eventual springboard to my lifelong commitment to developing tools that take us over that really tough gap, the one between fear of others’ condemnation and our commitment to living from our most essential nature. Because that’s what living in the light means.
Once we’re there, the loving part is easy.
Blessings to you, as you discover how to have your biggest, most powerful life!
I invite you to join us in this sixth facet of Evolutionary Power, Living Your Big Life. All it takes is a commitment to learn, the courage to embody, the willingness to be part of community of learners. What you’ll get? A simple pathway to joy and appreciation in everyday life.